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Cris Conklin

Ceramics

CRIS CONKLIN, Ceramics

Cris knew she wanted to be an artist from a very young age. She tried many different mediums before she discovered clay, but none were quite the right fit. When she took a ceramics course during her senior year in college, she knew this was it! She has been making pots ever since, experimenting with different clays and styles over the last 27 years. She is a full-time potter, using a variety of clays and firing methods to make functional pottery, tiles and sculpture.

She enjoys working with three dimensional form and also with two dimensional design. Pottery allows her to explore both simultaneously. It is an interesting challenge to fit flat patterns onto the volumes and curves of her pots.

She throws the majority of her pieces on a wheel, allowing her to make simple, elegant forms that are well suited for extensive surface decoration. Shaping the soft clay as it spins on the wheel is very satisfying and even meditative. She tried many different methods of decorating her pots before settling on the sgraffito technique of carving. The term sgraffito comes from the Italian word for “scratched” and it involves carving a design through colored clay slip that has been brushed onto the pot. Carving designs because allows her to add depth and texture to the pots’ surface while creating sharply defined images.

Most of her current work is fired in a salt kiln. In this exciting method of atmospheric firing, salt is added to the kiln at about 2400 degrees F. The salt is carried through the kiln by the flame and the sodium reacts with silica in the clay body to create a clear glaze right on the pots. She is drawn to the soft, earthy and often unpredictable surfaces achieved with atmospheric firing. There is something very liberating about painstakingly decorating a pot and then giving it to the kiln to do what it may.

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